Monday, June 28, 2010

IxToc I Oil Spill 1979

A disturbing story about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill published on June 8, 2010 emerged but you don't see it touted in the mainstream press.

Three days after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch government offered to help.

It was willing to provide ships outfitted with oil-skimming booms, and it proposed a plan for building sand barriers to protect sensitive marshlands.

The response from the Obama administration and BP, which are coordinating the cleanup: “The embassy got a nice letter from the administration that said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,'” said Geert Visser, consul general for the Netherlands in Houston.

Now, almost seven weeks later, as the oil spewing from the battered well spreads across the Gulf and soils pristine beaches and coastline, BP and our government have reconsidered.

U.S. ships are being outfitted this week with four pairs of the skimming booms airlifted from the Netherlands and should be deployed within days. Each pair can process 5 million gallons of water a day, removing 20,000 tons of oil and sludge.

At that rate, how much more oil could have been removed from the Gulf during the past month?

A reader reminded me of a story about a similar oil spill that happened in 1979 in the Gulf of Mexico but on the Mexican side, not the U.S.

Ixtoc I was an exploratory oil well being drilled by the semi-submersible drilling rig Sedco 135-F in the Bay of Campeche of the Gulf of Mexico, about 100 km (62 mi) northwest of Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche in waters 50 m (160 ft) deep. On 3 June 1979, the well suffered a blowout resulting in the third largest oil spill and the second largest accidental spill in history.

Despite over 3.3 million barrels of oil ending up in the environment after the cleanup, the beach fauna or beach populations were back to where they were before the spill within two to three years. After 6 years, it was difficult to find any evidence of oil. Today, after more than 30 years, there is little sign of the oil spill.

So why did it take so long for Alaska to get cleaned up? Better yet why aren't Congressmen Paul Kanjorski and Chris Carney asking for an investigation why our government turned down help for the worst oil spill in the history of the planet.

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